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Questions of self-determination are ever-present within the world order created by the United Nations and, if anything, they seem to be increasingly present, creating a difficult test for the international community and its institutions. The European Union is no exception to this and several national communities claim their right to self-determination in respect to one of its Member States. So far, the European Union has painstakingly avoided any involvement in these political disputes and has supported whatever course of action the concerned Member States have had to these demands, arguably overlooking some of the democratic principles that are the basis of the Union.
Please join us for the next discussion in our series on Democratic Governance and the Question of Self-Determination with Mikulas Fabry, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, on "How Should International Society Address Questions of Self-Determination?"
Abstract: "The presentation will argue that this question can only be answered by wrestling with the historical international practice of addressing claims of self-determination. International responses to these claims have rested on two broad conceptions – self-determination as a negative and a positive right. The negative conception, dominant throughout the 19th and first half of the 20th century, took self-determination to be a right of self-defined peoples to achieve independent statehood by their own efforts without foreign interference. If a people attained a de facto independent state, then that state qualified for external recognition. The positive conception, prevalent since post-1945 decolonization, has taken self-determination to be a right of pre-defined populations to independence in international law. Populations holding this right have qualified for general external recognition, whereas those not holding it have not. The development of self-determination as a positive international right, however, has not led to a disappearance of claims to independent statehood that stand outside of its confines. Groups that are deeply dissatisfied with the countries in which they presently find themselves continue to make demands for independence even though they may have no positive entitlement to it, giving rise to a variety of challenges across the globe. The presentation will conclude by expressing doubt that contemporary international society can find a sustainable basis for the right of self-determination other than the original negative conception."
Mikulas Fabry is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. He holds an Honors BA in international relations from the University of Toronto and a MA and PhD in political science from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Fabry’s scholarly interests revolve around moral and legal dimensions of world affairs, especially international norms regulating conflicts over legitimate statehood, government and territorial title. He is the author of Recognizing States: International Society and the Establishment of New States since 1776 (Oxford University Press, 2010) and, with James Ker-Lindsay, Secession and State Creation: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, in press 2022). Dr. Fabry has also published numerous journal articles and chapters in edited volumes. His current book project maps the evolution of the norm of territorial integrity in international relations and law.